A win against the Titans would not advance them any further in the AFC playoff standings.
It could only keep the Titans out of the postseason, with Houston locked into the No. 4 seed and hosting the Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card round.
That meant resting starters like quarterback Deshaun Watson, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, center Nick Martin and running back Carlos Hyde.
Left tackle Laremy Tunsil, nose tackle D.J. Reader, linebacker Benardrick McKinney, cornerback Bradley Roby and wide receivers Kenny Stills and Will Fuller V were already inactive for the game.
The Texans would rely on the likes of Steven Mitchell Jr. and DeAndre Carter to play significant snaps.
Taiwan Jones became the primary ball carrier. The Texans’ goal had to be to get out of this game as healthy as possible with the Bills on the way.
Houston’s No. 4 seed was locked up with the Chiefs win against the Chargers earlier Sunday. The drama from that round of NFL regular season finales turned out to be the Patriots losing to the Dolphins in Foxborough. It was significant because the Patriots fell to the No. 3 seed, gifting Kansas City a first-round bye and finding themselves scrapping it out with the last team to make the playoffs.
The Texans go into the postseason with solid wins against the Chiefs and Patriots. The only other team they beat that’s going to the playoffs is the Titans, who had to beat the resting Texans on Sunday to just to qualify.
Houston lost to the Saints, Panthers, Colts, Ravens and Broncos. The Saints and Ravens earned postseason bye weeks.
So what are the questions that didn’t get answered in the season finale, with so many starters resting or sidelined?
The inconsistency on offense.
The lack of a pass rush without a healthy J.J. Watt.
What's the depth chart at cornerback, with Bradley Roby and Johnathan Joseph struggling to stay healthy (Joseph left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury)?
It was fitting the Texans would get their first opening drive touchdown of the season with A.J. McCarron at quarterback, handing it off to Johnson.
Whether that’s limiting penalties, or just paying better attention to assignments, the same Texans who lost at home to Denver and won at Tampa can’t show up in the postseason and expect to make a run.
The Texans who bounced back from the Ravens game with a grimy Thursday Night Football win against the Colts and followed that up with a Sunday Night Football victory against the Patriots could actually do some damage.
It’s about which version of the team shows up.